After a four-musical season led the Waco Civic Theatre to what its director calls its most successful season, the theater plans to sing a second verse in its upcoming 2017-18 season.
The upcoming six-play season, announced Friday, features four musicals, with “Hairspray” and “Grease” bookending the season, and family and children’s theater productions throughout the year.
Executive director Eric Shephard said the plays chosen for next season follow up on what worked best for the WCT so far this year: offerings with name recognition and family fare.
“It’s by far the most successful season we’ve had,” Shephard said, even with two major productions still ahead.
“Pride and Prejudice” opens March 31, and “Rent” opens May 5.
“We had sold-out runs for ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ ‘Million Dollar Quartet,’ ‘Best Christmas Pageant Ever’ and ‘Most Wonderful Time of the Year,’ and ‘Sweeney Todd’ was ‘only’ 90 percent full,” Shephard said.
“Sweeney’s” somewhat dark subject matter — murder and cannibalism played with musical humor — and the lesser known titles of “Almost, Maine” and “Jackie and Me” may have led to audience turnouts smaller than hoped, he said.
Shephard said the current season showed three audience segments in attendance: an older, regular WCT audience that liked mainstream offerings like “Million Dollar Quartet” and its rock ‘n’ roll/rockabilly numbers made famous by Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins; a younger audience that responded to the humor and non-narrative structure of “Almost, Maine;” and a family-driven one that supported plays both for and by children.
Interest in the latter led theater programmers to schedule children’s and family shows throughout the year rather than just during the summer and holidays.
Shephard said some edgier works are being considered as additions to the regular season but not included in season tickets, much as the musical “Heathers” was last summer. Among those offerings are the musical “Spring Awakening,” a “Best of New Broadway” venue with songs selected from contemporary Broadway musicals and the comedy “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change.”
The main WCT season starts in June with the musical “Hairspray” June 22-25 and June 29-July 2. “Dream On,” a jukebox musical with girl-group songs from the ’60s and ’70s, will run Sept. 29- Oct. 1 and Oct. 5-8. “Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery,” playwright Ken Ludwig’s fast-paced comedy about fictional sleuth Sherlock Holmes, comes Dec. 1-3 and 8-10 with the Texas-flavored musical “Hands On A Hard Body,” about a contest to win a truck, planned for Jan. 26-28 and Feb. 1-4.
Ludwig’s action-filled adaptation “The Three Musketeers” will be March 23-25 and March 29-April 1 with the always-popular-in-Waco “Grease” closing the season May 4-6, 10-13 and 17-20.
The family and children’s theater productions include two summer offerings, “Winnie the Pooh Kids” July 14-16 and “Singing In The Rain Jr.” July 27-30. “Stars: Million Dollar Reunion” is slated for Sept. 8 with “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” returning Dec. 12-15, followed by “The Most Wonderful Show In The World” Dec. 16-18. Rounding off the family and children’s offerings next season is “Junie B. Jones” Feb. 22-25, 2018.
Season tickets start at $85 and $99, depending on the nights preferred, with patron levels starting at $250. Season tickets are on sale at www.wacocivictheatre.org or by calling the theater at 776-1591.